Dong People

The Dong ethnic minority lives primarily in the border regions between Guizhou, Hunan and Hubei Provinces, and it was during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), that this minority separated from the mixed minority 'Bai Yue', naming themselves Dong. Now their population is 2,960,293. They have their own spoken language, but use the Han characters for writing. Their language is a branch of Zhuang-Dong Group of the Sino-Tibetan phylum. There are basically two dialects, northern and southern for the Dongs. The Northern Dong is under the constant impact of Han culture and has lost many of their traditions, whereas the Southern Dong is able to retain their culture.
The staple food of the Dong ethnic minority is rice, millet, corn, wheat sorghum and glutinous rice. Oil tea is their favorite drink. A guest is usually treated to a bowl of oil tea and a single chopstick; when he finishes drinking and does not return the chopstick, hosts will consider the bowl is not enough and replenish the bowl. Dong people also like pickled and acidic foods. Dong people are very proud of their artistic contribution to architecture. Drum Tower and Wind and Rain Bridge are well renowned for the elaborate structural design. The tower, the tallest and most revered structure in the village, is constructed without nails, a testimony to the architectural skills of the Dong. As a Dong saying goes, where there is a river, there must be a bridge. In fact, whenever the Dongs live in compact communities, there will be various bridges.

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